Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Article | Open Access

Intra-Camp Coalitions in Direct Democracy: Evidence from Referendums on Asylum

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Abstract:  This article seeks to advance the underdeveloped literature on coalitions in direct democracy by considering intra-camp coalitions (ICC) at the level of political elites. The binary format of ballot measures leads to the formation of two opposing camps (i.e., supporters and opponents). However, political actors who belong to a given camp are not obliged to work with each other in the course of direct-democratic campaigns. I argue that the formation of ICC is ideologically driven, as political actors may be inclined to more closely cooperate with those actors who share their beliefs. Therefore, I expect that the actors of a given camp will create ideologically more homogeneous coalitions. The empirical analysis focuses on the salient issue of asylum by examining the cooperative ties between political organizations that participated in two Swiss referendum campaigns. Drawing on the CONCOR algorithm, I identify the actor compositions of the four camps in question. I show that the organizations that form the two main ICC on either side significantly differ from each other in terms of their positioning on the left-right scale. Hence, actors who campaign on the same side tend to separate into coalitions that are ideologically more homogeneous.

Keywords:  asylum; coalitions; direct democracy; referendum; Switzerland


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© Laurent Bernhard. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.